Global warming poses a threat to the earth, but humans can probably ease the climate threats brought on by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global climate specialist Richard Alley told an audience at the University of Vermont.
BURLINGTON, Vt. Global warming poses a threat to the earth, but humans can probably ease the climate threats brought on by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global climate specialist Richard Alley told an audience at the University of Vermont.
Alley said his research in Greenland suggested that subtle changes in atmospheric patterns leave parts of the globe susceptible to abrupt and dramatic climate shifts that can last decades or centuries.
Almost all scientists agree that increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere created as humans burn fossil fuel is warming the planet. How to respond to the warming is a matter of intense political, scientific and economic debate worldwide.
Alley said he was upbeat about global warming because enough clever people existed in the world to find other reliable energy sources besides fossil fuels.
He said people can get rich finding marketable alternatives to fossil fuel.
"Wouldn't it be useful if the United States were to have a piece of the action. Wouldn't it be useful if some bright students from UVM were to have a piece of the action," Alley said.
Alley said that Europe and parts of eastern North American could in a matter of a few years revert to a cold, windy region, akin to the weather in Siberia. Such shifts have occurred frequently over the millennia, Alley's research shows.
A gradual change in atmospheric temperature, such as global warming, could push the climate to a threshold where such a shift suddenly occurs, he said.
Alley told his audience of about 200 people in a UVM lecture hall Wednesday evening that he couldn't predict if, when or where sudden shifts toward cold, heat, drought or water could occur under global warming, but it is something everyone should consider.
"This is not the biggest problem in the world. The biggest problem in the world is getting along with each other. But it's part of that because we're not going to get along with each other if we're not getting along with the planet," Alley said.
Source: Associated Press